Few Dominicans enjoy pleasant and healthy work conditions, especially in rural areas. It gets better in the manufacturing sector, for instance, manufacturing goods for export. Workers are expected to work hard in often dangerous and dirty environments for low wages.
In the tourism sector, especially in modern resorts, working conditions are more acceptable, however, the wages still tend to be very low.
Expats working in the Dominican Republic generally find conditions are much better than local workers can expect. Working in language schools, universities, or in the tourism industry means a clean and safe environment, with wages comparatively high compared with locals’ salaries.
The normal working week is 40 hours with an eight-hour workday from 9 a.m. until 5 p.m. from Mondays to Fridays. However, quite a few businesses still close for a siesta that lasts for around two hours in the middle of the day. In some companies, the remaining four hours will be on Saturdays.
Part-time employees work at least 29 hours per week.
The government has maintained a minimum wage of RD$6,320 (US$150) per month in the free trade zone (FTZ) (2013). Outside the FTZ the minimum wage will approximately be between RD$6,880 and RD$11,292 a month (US$163 – $267). The wages in the Dominican Republic are low compared to Europe.
The Dominican Republic has 12 national holidays per year for workers. Also, employees have the right to 14 working days of paid vacation after one year of service. After five years of work, the vacation allowance will be increased to 18 working days.
The business culture in the Dominican Republic is quite an informal one in which networking and personal contacts are important. Business relations are especially based on trust so it is of great importance to make frequent trips to the country to meet your clients or contacts in person.
In Dominican work culture, it is important to be respectful and deferential to senior business people, the business world also tends to be very male-dominated, and there are few women in business.
Appointments should be made in advance, but be prepared for Dominicans to arrive a bit late.
Dominicans normally shake hands with their business partners, make eye contact, and remember to smile. Usually, business cards are exchanged at meetings. At the outset of meetings, there is usually small talk and it is common to talk about people’s personal lives. Also, meetings are quite formal but become more relaxed once Dominicans get to know you better.